Titans triumph over Penguins
By Charles Grove
Defensive lapses and missed opportunities at the basket were a big part of Youngstown State’s 90-80 loss to Detroit Mercy Saturday night at Beeghly Center.
Detroit (6-18, 4-8 Horizon League) shots 53 percent for the game, 60 percent in the second half and scored 52 points in the second half in a game YSU (10-15, 4-8) needed badly in terms of seeding for the upcoming Horizon League Tournament.
“I’m disappointed in this weak effort,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said. “You take care of business and you’re in a good spot in the league playing teams ahead of you [in the standings] but our defensive intensity was lacking tonight.”
After a back-and-fourth first half that saw YSU take an eight-point lead before the Titans came back with a six-point lead of their own, the Penguins were down 38-35 at halftime.
But the Titans erupted out of the locker room, scoring the first 12 points in the second half and going on a 23-6 run that effectively ended the game very quickly.
“We felt like we were in a pretty good spot at the half,” Slocum said. “We felt we stemmed the tide a bit and all of our [centers] had three fouls for the second half.
“But we missed three wide open bunnies to begin the half and they went down and got layups. Bad offense led to bad defense. All of a sudden they had two 3-pointers and you’re panicking a little bit.”
YSU’s offense was led by Cameron Morse’s 20 points while Braun Hartfield had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Detroit Mercy’s Jaleel Hogan was nearly unstoppable during his 33 minutes on the court. The junior had 22 points and 12 rebounds, leading all rebounders. UDM’s Corey Allen led all scorers with 27 points and was 60 percent (6-of-10) from beyond the arc.
“Jaleel is very patient in the post,” Detroit Mercy head coach Bacari Alexander said. “Tonight, the double teams mostly came off the passer and he did a particularly good job getting to the glass for stick backs and lay ins.”
The six-foot-seven, 260 pound presence needs help from his perimeter players, according to Alexander, and he got it Saturday. UDM hit 43 percent (9-of-21) of their 3-pointers.
“[Jaleel] is 17th in the country in field goal percentage, so only 16 guys in the nation finish around the basket better than him,” Alexander said. “We just need shooters to stretch the floor just enough to allow him to operate in there.”
Detroit Mercy has now won nine straight against the Penguins. It’s the longest win streak the Ttians have against any Division-I opponent. The Titans beat YSU in Detroit 87-71 last month.
“I don’t know if there’s any magic elixir we have against the Penguins,” Alexander said. “We’re very fortunate they missed shots they normally make. Cameron Morse and Santiago are terrific players but sometimes shots won’t fall in and that can fuel transition opportunities for us.”
YSU now sits a game out of last place in the Horizon League and is a full four games back of third place Oakland. Things only get tougher for YSU as a road trip at UIC and league-leading Valparaiso looms on the horizon.